Tribal Citizenship Policy and Protection Task Force

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The National Congress of American Indians
Resolution #PDX-20-001

TITLE: Tribal Citizenship Policy and Protection Task Force

WHEREAS, we, the members of the National Congress of American Indians of the United States, invoking the divine blessing of the Creator upon our efforts and purposes, in order to preserve for ourselves and our descendants the inherent sovereign rights of our Indian nations, rights secured under Indian treaties and agreements with the United States, and all other rights and benefits to which we are entitled under the laws and Constitution of the United States and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to enlighten the public toward a better understanding of the Indian people, to preserve Indian cultural values, and otherwise promote the health, safety and welfare of the Indian people, do hereby establish and submit the following resolution; and

WHEREAS, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) was established in 1944 and is the oldest and largest national organization of American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments; and

WHEREAS, each Indigenous society and nation in the United States possesses and has always possessed the inherent right to decide who belongs to that society or nation; and

WHEREAS, Article 9 of the United Nations Declaration On The Rights of Indigenous Peoples recognizes and affirms that “Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right to belong to an indigenous community or nation, in accordance with the traditions and customs of the community or nation concerned. No discrimination of any kind may arise from the exercise of such a right”; and

WHEREAS, Indigenous kinship and tribal citizenship have been impacted by colonial and federal treaties and laws since the eighteenth century, including the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, which defined “Indian” to “include all persons of Indian descent who are members of any recognized Indian tribe now under Federal jurisdiction, and all persons who are descendants of such members who were, on June 1, 1934, residing within the present boundaries of any Indian reservation, and . . . all other persons of one-half or more Indian blood”; and

WHEREAS, the federal Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968, 25 U.S.C. 1302(a)(8), provides that: “No Indian tribe in exercising powers of self-government shall . . . deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of its laws or deprive any person of liberty or property without due process of law; and

WHEREAS, a growing body of Indigenous scholarship warns that arbitrary and incongruent
definitions of tribal citizenship threaten the future of Indigenous citizenries and nations, including
Norbert Hill’s The Great Vanishing Act: Blood Quantum and the Future of Native Nations; Dr. Kim
TallBear’s Native American DNA: Tribal Belonging and the False Promise of Genetic Science; and
Dr. David Wilkins’ Dismembered; and

WHEREAS, NCAI has not heretofore passed any Resolution affirming Indigenous kinship or
tribal citizenship rights; and

WHEREAS, it is within NCAI’s purview to offer education, guidance, and advocacy needed
by Indigenous nations as they wield their sovereign powers in order to establish and maintain
harmonious kinship relations and protect the human and civil rights of their citizens; and

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the National Congress of American Indians
(NCAI) affirms that each Indigenous nation enjoys the inherent right to decide who belongs to that
nation and each Indigenous individual enjoys the right to belong as a citizen of his or her Indigenous
nation free from discrimination or due process deprivation; and

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that NCAI establishes a Tribal Citizenship Policy
and Protection Task Force to study, educate, and advocate regarding issues of Indigenous kinship and
tribal citizenship.

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that this resolution shall be the policy of NCAI until it is
withdrawn or modified by subsequent resolution.

The foregoing resolution was adopted by the General Assembly at the 2020 Annual Session of the
National Congress of American Indians, held Nov 8, 2020 - Nov 13, 2020, with a quorum present.